The past holiday season was perhaps the biggest showcase of the year for advertisers in Lebanon and the Middle East. During which, many brands hope to improve their social media marketing efforts in order to take advantage of the many opportunities it contains and to avoid major marketing pitfalls. As ad space becomes scarce, more brands look to get a piece of the action, despite the fact that advertising costs skyrocket and chances of making an impression plummet.
With digital literacy going up in Lebanon and the rest of the region, social media has emerged as an increasingly popular source for entertainment, research and socializing, particularly during Ramadan when people have significant free time on their hands.
But how exactly would you achieve better quality ads and reach your target audience on social media at an affordable price?
Tip 1: Know Your Customer
This is usually the starting point of every marketing plan. Businesses claiming they know their target audience strictly from experience, often squander vast sums of money on advertising and end up being disappointed with their ROI.
I always find it useful to start by defining my client’s target consumer and then back it up by solid research. If you’re not familiar with defining a target consumer, you might find it useful to sketch up personas. Personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you personalize a market segment you’re trying to attract.
With the help of research, CRM, sales team’s feedback, social media interactions and your very own experience, you might find it useful to create personas based on:
- Interests and Behaviors
- Social networks they’re most active on
If you have several target audiences you may want to create several buyer personas, each representing a unique segment. You’ll then assign as many demographic and psychographic details as you deem fit. I still remember some of the personas a client of mine created; “Go Getters”, “Attention Seekers”, and “Hamra Dwellers”.
This exercise can be a lot of fun, especially if your graphic designer decided to impersonate them as funny cartoons or characters from a popular TV show.
A hidden benefit is that you could explore new audiences you never thought of before. If your persona is a teenager, and you haven’t known what teenagers did since N’Sync were popular, you may hire an intern or host a focus group with teenagers from your family.
Bottom line: the clearer your avatar is, the easier it is to find them on social media.
You may find it more difficult when you tackle your persona’s psychographic angle because there’s so much information that’s relevant to how and why people make their purchasing decisions. You may want to start asking yourself:
- What’s their preferred method of communication? Phone or email?
- What’s their motivation for using social media?
- How often do they try new things? How important is peer review?
- What are their aspirations? This is a big question. Uncovering customers’ higher motives often affects the kind of content you share (message, image, tone of voice… ).
Research tells us that consumers across the Arab world in Ramadan tend to watch more videos, do more searches, and spend more time on mobile.
As any experienced marketer will tell you, seasonality is very important. Allow me to demonstrate.
- Go to Google Trends/ Explore
- Write the term ‘Vimto’. To those unfamiliar with this product, it’s a popular soft drink sold extensively in GCC.
- Select ‘Saudi Arabia’ and set the duration to ‘past 5 years’
Running the same report for any other Gulf nation reveals huge spikes in search during Ramadan. Then after Ramadan, the term’s search volume drops back to a flat line, reflecting the beverage’s return to relative online obscurity.
Tip 2: Know Your Market
Once you have a good sense of what your audience looks like and how it behaves online, you can use Facebook Ads Manager to estimate the size of your audience.
Additionally, Google Analytics can provide a world of insight into how visitors interact with your website: where they come from, how they got there and what services they’re interested in. Such insights can help you reduce the cost of social media ads. Inside Google Analytics, right under the Acquisition tab, you can see which networks your audience is engaging with you on. It’s a good idea to visit Facebook Insights to validate your findings.
Now, let’s sneak a peek at your competitors. Facebook is the epicenter of social networks, so it’s best to start there and see how active your competitors are. Head over to Facebook Insights, and click on ‘Add Pages’ under ‘Overview’. Select three to five competitors.
This step allows you to keep an eye on your competitors’ activity and will tell you how their audience is engaging with them on Facebook.
Follow your competitors on Instagram and Twitter too. Find out what hashtags they’re using and how often their posting images or tweeting. It’s always a good idea to write down any competitor you can think of on an Excel sheet before adding their Instagram usernames and Twitter handles in adjacent columns.
Another good idea is to create a competitors list on Twitter. Just don’t forget to make it private.
Facebook offers a lot of tools to help you reach your target audience. Have you tried the Audience Insights tool? Using Audience Insights, you can gather a lot of useful insights on your audience such as:
- Page Likes
- Location and Language
- Facebook Usage
Another great way to expand your audience on Facebook is to target lookalike audiences. When you create a Lookalike Audience, you choose a source audience (a Custom Audience created with a data partner, your pixel data, your mobile app data or fans of your Page). Facebook then identifies the common qualities of the people in it (ex: demographic information or interests).
Now that you’ve identified your audience, how exactly do you grow and maintain customers on social media? The answer, in my opinion, lies in two major elements:
1. Nature of the social media platform utilized, and
2. Type content is published on those platforms
Let’s take Facebook. Facebook is closing in on the 2 billion milestone. The first quarter witnessed 80 million new users, contributing to a whopping 1.94 billion monthly active users and 1.28 billion daily active users.
But is YOUR audience on Facebook? If the answer is yes, remember the following guidelines that have worked for a lot of my clients:
- Post regularly- daily if possible
- Repost original content but never follow the same text or layout. This is particularly important if you have trouble coming up with new content. Experiment with infographics, videos or images. I use iMovie and Ripl for videos and WordSwag, Canva and Photoshop for visuals.
- Try to schedule your posts to times your audience is most active. I use Hootsuite and Later.
- Use a different headline when you decide to repost.
- Boost visibility by asking your team members to post the original and its variations on their pages.
Tip 3: Measure Your Ad Performance
Now that you’ve defined your audience and experimented with content and publishing, run your analytics. Facebook offers a great analytical tool under Ads Manager. You’ll be able to measure each ad’s performance against its audience. Unless you run analytics, you won’t be able to determine which social media strategy is doing well. If a campaign is performing less than expected, compare it to other ads, study its cost-per-result and try to find out what’s wrong. It may be the message, tone of voice, image or something else. Remember, it’s better to focus on two platforms that are performing well rather than be on every social media channel.
Finally, inject some personality into your brand. I am a big fan of “Sandwich w Noss” Facebook presence. To those of you unfamiliar with the brand, they’re a local street food restaurant with great presence on Facebook and Instagram. With active discussions, humorous photos, and almost always engaging content, they never fail to disappoint their customers!
Decide on a personality for your brand, then work on a content that promotes that personality. Add engaging content to the mix and you’ll have an established brand following.
People in Lebanon are now online more than ever before. This trend only seems to escalate during the holy month. By properly defining your audience, and deciding on a great content strategy there’s is ample opportunity to reach and shape the perceptions of your target audiences.